Give Chris Stewart credit — he understands the business side of hockey, and isn’t going to sugarcoat it.
On Thursday, the former Blues forward was frank in discussing the trade that sent him to Buffalo, one that landed St. Louis coveted netminder Ryan Miller.
“They wanted the big goalie and I got voted off the island,” Stuart said, per NHL.com. “I was the casualty. It sucks, but that’s the business.”
It was just a little over a month ago when St. Louis sent Stewart, Jaroslav Halak, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a conditional 2016 pick to Buffalo in exchange for Miller and Steve Ott. The move marked the end of an up-and-down tenure for Stewart in St. Loo (Lou? Lew? Lioux?) — at times, he would flash the skill and strength of a promising, goalscoring power forward; other times, he’d suffer through long bouts of ineffectiveness (and subsequently spent time in Ken Hitchcock’s doghouse.)
Now, Stewart sounds appreciative of what he had with the Blues. He’s currently shelved with an ankle injury — on the NHL’s last-place team — and knows he’s much further away from contending for a championship in Buffalo than he was in St. Louis.
“I was a little disappointed at first,” he said of the trade. “You go from being ranked to win Stanley Cup to being out of the playoffs in a day.”
There does appear to be some optimism surrounding Stewart’s current condition, though. Sabres head coach Ted Nolan suggested the 26-year-old might get a chance to play again this season, a nice prognosis considering many figured his year was done.
“We’re hoping we get to see him,” Nolan said. “At least the guys got a feeling of what we’ve got coming back next year. He had a serious injury, so we’ll wait and see if he’s 100 percent sure before we test him for a game. We don’t want him re-injuring it.”
Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.
Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.
On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.
The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.
Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.
“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.
Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.
Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.
With a big laugh, Murray on Friday said the only way Ristolainen could speed up contract talks is if “he got all lovey-dovey” and elected to take the Sabres’ latest offer.
Ristolainen is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Sabres in June. After representing Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, Ristolainen reported to the Sabres on Thursday in what was regarded as a sign of good faith.
Though he’s not allowed to play because he’s not under contract, Ristolainen is practicing with the team and also taking part in meetings. Ristolainen is not making himself available to reporters.
Murray says he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Ristolainen to practice, saying he’d rather the player be in Buffalo than working out elsewhere.
Murray says the two sides are still negotiating.
In three seasons, Buffalo’s 2013 first-round draft pick has established himself as the Sabres’ top defenseman. Last year, Ristolainen led the team in averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game, and led Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists).